Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Restore Balance in the Two Kingdoms

This is the kind of comment that leads people to call an unbalanced view of the two kingdoms, "radical two kingdoms":
Indeed, in general terms, it seems from the New Testament that the less we have to do with the magistrate, the better it will be for us.
(source R. Scott Clark)

That's the same R. Scott Clark who was recently stumping for civil magistrate on his blog as discussed at this link.

Clark further states:
Nevertheless, when it comes to the visible, institutional church, the Scriptures enjoin on us an attitude of submission and a desire to protect those who look after the welfare of our souls that it does not require of us regarding the civil magistrate, who looks after our outward, common, shared life. The magistrate, in his office, is not enjoined to pray for us.
I respond:
a) The duty of submission is a mutual duty of the brethren, not a one-way duty toward elders.
Peter, in his first catholic epistle, says:
1 Peter 5:5
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
Likewise, Paul teaches us:
Ephesians 5:21
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

b) We are explicitly told to submit ourselves unto those who have worldly authority:
That same Peter in the same book we mentioned above - earlier in the book - says:
1 Peter 2:13-14
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
Likewise, still earlier:
1 Peter 2:17
Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
Colossians 3:22-24
Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
Indeed, these commands are quite closely paired with obedience to the Lord.

c) Clark seems to have in mind the following passage from Hebrews:
Hebrews 13:17-18
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.
But this resembles Paul's exhortation regarding kings:
1 Timothy 2:1-4
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
Incidentally, the structure of Hebrews 13 is quite beautiful - it includes "Remember them which have the rule over you ... Obey them that have the rule over you ... Salute all them that have the rule over you ...."

d) Furthermore, while there may not be an explicit command for kings to pray for those entrusted to them, that surely is a logical inference to be drawn from the duties of superiors to inferiors.

e) Moreover, the Scriptures do explicitly norm kings and those in authority:
Psalm 2:10-12
Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

f) Certainly, we should not fall into the opposite extreme from Clark, of some kind of democratic congregationalism and denial that those who have rule over us in the church do not have any rule over us in the church. I hope no one will take my criticism of one imbalance to suggest the opposite imbalance.

g) Rather, neither magistrates nor elders of the church are priests whose job it is to stand between us and God. While those who rule over us bring the Word of God to us and set a good example for us (Hebrews 13:7) the great Shepherd of the sheep is Christ (Hebrews 13:20). Christ is Lord over all - both Lord of the Sword and the Gospel. The cattle on a thousand hills are his.

- TurretinFan

The "We Dressed Differently" Claim

Dr. Ergun Caner has sometimes claimed that he "dressed differently" than typical Americans back when, as a young boy, he was allegedly a devout Muslim. One reason to question this claim is the photo of his father in front of the Islamic Center that he supposedly "built."

Someone dressed as an imam is near the center of the picture, and Caner's father is allegedly to his right (our left). But wait, if the Caners dressed differently than typical Americans, wouldn't that appear in photos like this one? I mean - the one surely safe place to wear Islamic garb would surely be right in front of a posted Islamic Center, wouldn't it? Yet even for this picture, Caner's father is wearing typical Western clothes.

Also, notice that except for the imam, all the men are in Western clothes. In other words, Caner's father looks like the rule, not the exception, for the Muslims of this particular Islamic Center.

Recall that Norm Geisler tried to defend Caner this way (link to source):
5. Caner claims to have worn a Muslim "keffiyeh"(head covering) before his conversion to Christianity, yet photos show him with his head uncovered. This reveals that he was not a devout Muslim and that he intended to deceive when claiming to be one.

Response: Ergun’s brother Emir vouches for their devout Muslim background. He has provided a picture (below) of Ergun with his head covered (sitting down). Of course, there were other times when he had no covering on which would be natural.

[TFan note: link to photo is broken]

Other evidence of his being a devout Muslim is available, such as Ergun’s circumcision ceremony and participation in the reading and recitation of the Qur’an. Further, that Ergun was reared a devout Muslim is proven by his father’s testimony recorded in the divorce proceedings documents which ironically Ergun’s critic placed on the internet.
Whether or not Caner was a "devout" Muslim is one question - whether Caner regularly dressed like Lawrence of Arabia, is another question.  Given that his father apparently did not so dress, even for a posed photo at the Islamic Center with the imam, what are the odds that Caner himself regularly wore Islamic garb to highschool?


Notice that Caner proudly posts this picture as his background on his full twitter page (link).

UPDATE: I should add that the only leadership position we've been able to document Acar Caner holding is as President (at least twice) of the Turkish American Association of Central Ohio (TAACO) (link to site). That page also includes a picture of Acar Caner:

(sorry about the low quality)(previously reported here)
Now, not only does Acar plainly not wear any kind of Lawrence of Arabia style headgear, even in this role in a Turkish-American association, he doesn't appear to be wearing Sunni-style robes.  In fact, if you look at the page and see all the presidents (including women presidents), you'll see that none of them seem to be wearing distinctively Sunni clothing.  Indeed, the women aren't even wearing headscarves.  Of course, as we've said elsewhere - dressing in Western style was normal for Turkish Muslims in that era.  If Caner had dressed differently, he would have been an unusual Turk indeed.

Also, see this picture:

And this picture:

And notice how the sons are dressed in those same pictures: western style clothes.

Likewise, remember the yearbook photos from my "Who is Dr. Caner" post (link to post).

Further Update:

Also recall this photo allegedly of Caner in the mosque with a rifle:
Notice that although the girl does seem to be dressed up, Caner and all the other males in the picture are wearing typical western clothes.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Calvin vs.(?) Turretin on Inerrancy

The doctrine of Biblical inerrancy is sometimes associated with Francis Turretin (the real one, not me, his fan).  There was an interesting article in the Autumn 2011 edition of "Foundations," which addresses the question, "Did Turretin Depart from Calvin's View on the Concept of Error in the Scriptures" (link to pdf of whole issue).  The author, Ralph Cunnington, does an excellent job of demonstrating and explaining that - in fact - both Calvin and Turretin were in agreement.  His conclusion states:
Calvin and Turretin both held to a view of the inspiration and authority of Scripture which affirmed that the Scriptures as originally given were without error in all that they affirmed. The view that Calvin only affirmed the infallibility of the saving content of Scripture rests upon decidedly unpersuasive grounds and conflicts with Calvin’s unambiguous statements to the contrary.
Furthermore, the contention that a radical disjunction exists between Calvin’s view of Scripture and that of Turretin remains unproven. While a shift in the form of theological discourse unquestionably took place in the seventeenth century, the content of orthodox doctrine remained substantially the same. Far from dispensing with Calvin’s doctrine of inspiration, Turretin sought to defend it against the new challenges that it faced in the seventeenth century. While his methodology may be questioned, we should be in no doubt that Turretin intended his doctrine to be an expression of continuity with the doctrine expounded by the Reformers.
But please read the article for yourselves!

- TurretinFan

Lightning Breaks Idol - Men Repair

The New York Post reports (link) that lightning broke a finger off the idol purporting to be of Jesus Christ, in Rio de Janeiro.  The idol cannot protect itself from lightning (this is not the first time it's been struck).  Moreover, God - who sends the lightning - has actually broken the idol.  Yet, instead of just abandoning (or better yet razing) this idol, the plan is to repair it.  One is reminded of a similar situation in Scripture:
I Samuel 5:1-5 And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod. When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon. And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again. And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him. Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon's house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.
The idol of Rio de Janeiro purports to be of the true and living God, but it is as helpless as the statue of Dagon.  It would be better for the men of Rio to raze this idol, rather than continually repairing it.

And it is not only the men of Rio who have such a sad lust for idols.  Recall that not long ago God sent lightning and destroyed the statue in Monroe, Ohio (link to story), with again the men saying that they plan to rebuild.


The Roman Catholic Problem of Hell

Scott Windsor has a post, "The Matter of Hell," in which he sides with unordained Michael Voris against ordained priest Robert Barron. By contrast, Mark Shea has a post, "Michael Voris Again Smears an Innocent Catholic," in which he sides with Barron against Voris.

Shea argues that Barron is saying almost exactly what Pope Benedict XVI said on the topic, whereas Windsor argues that Barron's position comes close to falling under the condemnation of the Second Council of Constantinople. Per Windsor, Barron's view is "scandalous at best and perhaps even heretical" whereas Shea thinks "Barron is guilty of no heresy, has said nothing “wrong” and is perfectly within the pale of orthodox speculation."

At issue is Barron's apparent view (which he says agrees with Balthazar's view) we should believe that Hell is at least possible (as a metaphor for loneliness from divine love, not actually a place) but that we can reasonably hope that Hell is empty based on God's universal salvific desire. Barron concedes to the big tent nature of Roman Catholicism, pointing out that folks like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas would disagree with him.

Shea likewise balances his comment by pointing out:
Now those, such as Ralph Martin who speculate that few will be saved are also (obviously) also within the pale of orthodoxy and share their opinion with not a few Fathers and theologians. But at the end of the day, that’s all you have: two schools of opinion–both of which are allowed by the Church.
But it's not just Windsor and Voris vs. Shea and Barron. We could add that we have previously pointed out contemporary cardinals holding that hell may be empty (Cardinal George Pell and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor).

So, what's the big deal? Well, on the one hand - the Scriptures are clear that there will be men in hell. For example:
Matthew 7:23
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Matthew 25:41
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Revelation 20:14
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Revelation 21:8
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Matthew 22:14
For many are called, but few are chosen.

1 Corinthians 1:26
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

Matthew 26:28
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Mark 14:24
And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.

Romans 9:22
What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

Matthew 8:12
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
And we could on and on.  Although the great Origen erred in hoping for the eventual restoration of all creation, such a view is not consistent with Scripture's teachings both that hell is real and that the punishment of hell is eternal punishment.

So, on the one hand, Windsor is right that people like Barron and a couple of Windsor's cardinals are wrong.  On the other hand, such a problem is not resolvable on Roman Catholic grounds for basically the reasons that Shea and Barron enunciate: there has been no "official teaching" that anathematizes one or the other position, and consequently both contradictory positions are acceptable, even though both cannot be right.

Worse yet for Windsor and Voris, the evidence is that the current hierarchy supports and teaches the erroneous view.  I have not confirmed whether Shea is accurate in characterizing the teachings of Benedict XVI, but it clearly extends at least up to the cardinals.

The most remarkably thing is that Windsor and Voris continue to trust in this church (which teaches and promotes errors that they themselves are able to identify) rather than trusting in God alone and His Word. They may be able to convince themselves that these same hierarchs would never commit their erroneous doctrines to an allegedly infallible document, but such thinking seems wishful indeed in view of the highly compromised documents of Vatican II, not to mention the victory of the ultramontanists in Vatican I.